Pro Evolution Soccer 2015
After a delay, Konami has finally released the demo for Pro Evolution Soccer 2015. We played the PS4 version and liked what we experienced. Rival FIFA 15 by EA Sports has also just hit store shelves, but soccer fans of all stripes will find plenty to like about this year's Pro Evo title.
The demo features a friendly match; letting you choose between Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Athletic Club, Bayern Munich, Napoli, and Athletico Madrid. Developer PES Productions said that PES 2015 draws less on skill moves and has more responsive controls. In the matches we played, we definitely noticed that retaining possession and dribbling were easier than in PES 2014. Moreover, the player animations as a whole are much smoother than in past years.
Traditionally, video game footy fans have argued over the Pro Evo (formerly Winning Eleven) and FIFA franchises, but this year it looks like both are quality products in their own right. If you're a FIFA fan looking for more football action or are just curious how this year's PES is shaping up, here are a few standouts of the demo.
Pro Evolution, like FIFA, lets you call in an off-the-ball A.I. teammate to help you on defense. Unlike FIFA, where more often than not the helpers you summon don't engage the opposing player, in the PES demo your teammates were very helpful in applying pressure and even dislodging the ball when called upon.
Conversely, when the A.I. team has the ball, they are more apt to take some chances, whether that's a long-range shot or by trying to pick out a player making a run and playing a hopeful long ball into space. I also noticed that the A.I. does a good job of moving the ball around, supporting the ball carrier, and not letting itself be forced into certain areas of the pitch or bad situations.
You can keep yourself up nights trying to play manager and tinker with the plethora of tactical options in the game, but one simple and helpful feature of PES 2015 is the Fluid Formation feature. This lets you set three different formations (or variations within the same formation) that your team will automatically adopt in three situations: At kickoff, when you're in possession, and when you lose it. This is a nice shortcut that is different than having to change your entire overall team strategy.
The Pro Evo franchise has always given players lots of control commands to wrap their fingers around. This makes the game as complex as you want it to be, but also gives you more options. Thankfully, if the demo is anything to go by, it looks like the command list is largely the same as last year, so you'll have some familiarity to go on.
Although Konami has said that skill moves are less important this year, the game retains the option for auto feints (dekes) as well as manual ones, and still lets you control off-the-ball players so you can lead them with a through ball or move them into space. The optional onscreen indicators can be really helpful, showing you in what direction manual passes and through balls are heading.
The Pro Evo franchise has lagged behind FIFA in terms of its licenses, but it does have the licenses for the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and numerous leagues, players, competitions, and teams around the world.
This year the game also contains some licensed managers and stadiums, as well as second division teams for Italy, England, France, and Spain, although it's unknown yet which of these will be licensed or unlicensed. PES Productions hasn't officially released the full list of licenses, but there will be more official ones than in previous years.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 comes out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on November 13. The demo is out now for all platforms except the PC.